This weekend it is ‘Diwali’ - the festival of light that celebrates finding the light in the darkness - where good triumphs over evil. Diwali isn’t the only festival that uses the symbolism of light and the lighting of candles: Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid and many more celebrate with light.
One of our school values is to ‘Be Positive’. Positivity is like the light in the darkness. When you surround yourself with positivity, it can’t help but permeate and lighten the mood and feelings of everyone around you. We talk to the children about having a good sense of humour as an arrow to our bow of positivity. Making people smile and laugh is such a gift. Nothing makes me happier than hearing the sounds of the classroom when I can hear children laugh. Having a good sense of humour is so underrated educationally; when we tackle new challenges or find ourselves in the learning pit, positivity is the light out of that darkness. So many times I’ve seen the healing power of humour to cheer up a worried face or distract an emotional tummy ache.
As a student teacher, I always remember the wise words of my first ever University lecturer and mentor. I was very pleased with the lesson I had just taught: all the children had been silent and focused with no behavioural issues. Tick. I was now a proper teacher. I waited eagerly for my feedback…
“When you teach, you’re nothing like you are in real life,” he said. I wasn’t sure at first whether that was a compliment or not. It wasn’t. He continued by saying, “Why are you so smiley and full of energy in real life but you’re so serious when you’re teaching your class?” I blustered my way through my explanation saying I needed to keep control of the class and therefore I needed to be calm and show that the learning was serious etc. He just smiled and told me to go away and think about it. I’m glad I met him. Of course, there’s a time for serious, focused teaching, I’m not advocating a ‘stand up comedy’ teacher routine every lesson, but when I learnt to let go of myself and bring light into the classroom, the response from the pupils and their learning was phenomenal. Our teachers laugh in our school - with each other and with the pupils. And during the last few months, laughter is exactly what everyone has needed: pupils and teachers alike.
So we will continue to champion ‘positivity’ as our Wandsworth Prep value and praise that quality in the children when we see it, especially positivity in the light of adversity. It’s easy to be positive when every sum is correct, your story flows or your experiment concludes successfully, but not so easy when obstacles are in front of us. That is the true meaning of positivity. If we can instil that into our children, what a wonderful life skill to have with your whole life ahead of you.